Buzz Index: Byrd Droppings

Change is one constant in fantasy sports. Players get hot and cool down, get hurt and get well, and move in and out of roles. Fantasy owners are constantly reacting to these changes (or at least they should be). Let's take a look at the Buzz Index from the past few days to see which players are currently causing the most change in fantasy baseball, and take a deeper look at what the fuss is all about.

Buzz Index (Baseball) – adds
Jorge Sosa (NYM – SP, RP) 30,933 adds
Sosa was added en masse leading up to his Wednesday start against the Dodgers. Sosa was 6-1 entering the game, with a 2.64 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 44.1 innings.
Upshot: Sosa turned in one of his worst performances of the season – he allowed six earned runs in 5.2 innings – and was also among the most dropped players on Wednesday night. His microscopic .221 BABIP (.278 career), even after Wednesday's debacle, should tell you that a continued regression in his ratios is a near certainty.

Casey Kotchman (LAA – 1B) 30,931 adds
Kotchman has been among the hottest hitters in baseball for some time now, batting .443 (39 for 88) over his past 28 games, with 17 runs scored, six home runs, 21 runs batted in, and a BB:K ratio of 14:6. He is currently among the league's top 20 in batting average (.323) and OPS (.952).
Upshot: The 24-year-old Kotchman has a solid minor league track record (.325 average, .900 OPS in 1,241 at bats) and, while his numbers will taper from their absurd current pace, he should continue to post solid fantasy numbers moving forward.

Jeremy Guthrie (Bal – SP, RP) 27,040 adds
Guthrie continues to roll, allowing six hits and two runs in 8.0 innings in his most recent start. Guthrie has now logged seven consecutive quality starts, posting a 1.75 ERA and 0.74 WHIP during that stretch, with just 32 hits allowed and six walks in 51.1 innings
Upshot: As I said last week, when Guthrie was also among the most added players, he's been too effective to ignore, and his continued low walk rate is a particularly good sign. Guthrie, who should be universally owned at this point, aims for his eight consecutive quality start on Thursday versus the Nationals.

Brendan Harris (TB – SS) 23,136 adds
Harris hit above .300 in both of the season's first two months, but it's his run-producing outburst in June that has throngs of fantasy owners taking notice. Harris has four home runs and 16 runs batted in over his past 13 games, while also hitting .340 (17 for 50) with 11 runs scored.
Upshot: Harris has been hitting (.313 season average) and showing a keen batting eye all season (current .368 OBP). The 26-year-old did it in the minors, too (.295/.363/.469 in 2,240 at bats). You could do much worse at shortstop.

Alan Embree (Oak – RP) 19,934 adds
Embree is the latest quasi-closer to emerge from the waiver wire. He has recorded seven saves in his past 11 appearances for the A's, going back to May 19.
Upshot: Embree gains value by the day – he was supposed to be a temporary solution, as neither Huston Street nor Justin Duchscherer were expected to miss significant time with their respective injuries. With both Street and Duchscherer now being on indefinite timetables, Embree looks to be firmly entrenched (for now).

Sean Marshall (ChC – SP) 19,203 adds
Marshall has been exceptional for the Cubs since being recalled from Triple-A, posting a 2.12 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and .216 BAA in 34.0 innings over five starts. The 24-year-old has walked just seven hitters while striking out 27.
Upshot: Marshall was tearing it up in Triple-A before getting his promotion, as well, as he posted a .1.82 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and .191 BAA in four starts. Three things stand out for the 6-foot-7 lefty as good signs: his high strikeout rate (7.2/9), low walk rate (1.9/9), and high ground ball percentage (51 percent). As with Guthrie, fantasy owners should keep using Marshall every fifth day until the results begin to suggest otherwise.

Raul Ibanez (Sea – OF) 18,935 adds
Ibanez appears to be finally emerging from his statistical slumber. Not only has he hit .329 (28 for 85) over his past 21 games, but he's seen a run production spike, with 17 runs scored and 18 runs batted in during that time.
Upshot: Ibanez is on pace for close to 100 runs and over 100 runs batted in, although his power numbers are way down. He's a very good hitter, but fantasy owners who were anticipating a repeat of his career-best numbers from 2006 (at age 34), were setting themselves up for a letdown.

Brandon Inge (Det – 3B) 18,818 adds
Inge has been red-hot during the month of June, batting .481 (13 for 27), slugging three home runs, and driving in 12 runs in just eight games. He's raised his average 36 points, from .219 to .255, since June 1.
Upshot: Inge has established himself as a plus-power, low-average fantasy option at third base. Ride the hot streak while it lasts, but set season expectations at 25-30 home runs and a .260-ish average.

Carlos Pena (TB – 1B) 16,889 adds
Over his past ten games, Pena has hit .419 (13 for 31), with 11 runs scored, four home runs, and 10 runs batted in. Pena's overall "Last Month (total)" rank in the Yahoo! game is 19, thanks to a .370 average, 22 runs scored, seven home runs, and 18 runs batted in.
Upshot: Pena is currently third in the league in home run rate (11.1) among players with at least 150 at bats, behind Alex Rodriguez (9.5) and Prince Fielder (10.6). Look at his splits from 2005 and 2004, and you'll see similar hot streaks flanked by months with a .200-ish average and OPS's around .700. Enjoy the ride for now, but at the very least add him to your team's Trading Block and see what kind of offers you get.

Xavier Nady (Pit – 1B, OF) 16,555 adds
Nady had a solid month of May, but has picked up the pace a bit in June. In 11 games during the month, Nady has hit .303 (10 for 33), scored nine runs, hit four home runs, and driven in 10 runs.
Upshot: Nady doesn't have much upside, but his positional eligibility makes a bit more of a solid option during a hot streak such as the one he is currently on.

Buzz Index (Baseball) – drops
Dan Wheeler (Hou – RP) 24,295 drops
Wheeler has lost his position as closer for the Astros, partly due to Brad Lidge's resurgence, but it hasn't helped that Wheeler has been battered like a piata during the month of June. In 7.1 innings over eight appearances, Wheeler has a 0-3 record, two blown saves, a 15.95 ERA, 2.45 WHIP, and .417 BAA.
Lowdown: Fantasy owners who have Lidge on their roster might want to use a bench spot on Wheeler until everything sorts itself out, but, at this rate, Wheeler might not be next in line even if Lidge were to implode as closer once again.

Paul Byrd (Cle – SP) 11,835 drops
Byrd has been hit hard and often in two June starts, as he's allowed 21 hits, 11 earned runs, and four home runs in 10.0 innings pitched, raising his ERA from 3.57 to 4.50 in the process.
Lowdown: You have to give Byrd props for not walking a single batter during the month of May – that's zero walks in 40.0 innings – but fantasy owners would be wise to go ahead and assume Byrd's days as a relevant fantasy pitcher are over.

Salomon Torres (Pit – RP) 11,486 drops
Torres continues to make his way off of fantasy rosters. He has lost his job as closer to Matt Capps, and he's currently on the DL with right elbow issues.
Lowdown: Keep an eye on Matt Capps in case he has trouble adjusting to the role of closer, but there are plenty of better options at middle reliever than even a healthy Torres.

Braden Looper (StL – SP, RP) 11,467 drops
Looper has waffled between effective and atrocious over his past five starts, but the bad has more than made up for the good. In 27.2 innings, he's compiled a 7.48 ERA and 1.77 WHIP, while walking 12 and striking out just seven.
Lowdown: Looper's fantasy owners no doubt have fond memories of his 2.29 ERA and 1.14 WHIP as of May 12, but it's his current 4.12 ERA and 1.36 WHIP that should serve as the more accurate measuring stick of his contributions.

Freddy Garcia (Phi – SP) 10,144 drops
Garcia has been sidelined indefinitely with a frayed rotator cuff and labrum issues, and season-ending surgery appears to be an option. Garcia lasted just 1.2 innings in his most recent start, surrendering seven hits, two home runs, and six earned runs in the 8-4 loss to the Royals.
Lowdown: Even if Garcia isn't shut down for the season, it's hard to envision him being able to return to a form that would make him a viable fantasy starter at any point in the near future.

Chris Duncan (StL – 1B, OF) 9,623 drops
Duncan has been slow to get back on track since returning to the Cardinals' lineup after missing some time with a knee infection. He's gone just two for 27 (.074) during the month of June.
Lowdown: Duncan's season line was .295/.368/.541 as of May 23, so dropping him now is a bit of a short-sighted move. In 68 games after the All-Star break in 2006, Duncan hit .295 with 52 runs scored, 19 home runs, and 34 runs batted in. Fantasy owners would be better off allowing him to take up a bench spot for a bit longer – if he's a free agent in your league, try to make some room for him, as well.

Mark Reynolds (Ari – 3B) 9,091 drops
After putting up an astronomical .426/.484/.815 line in 54 at bats during the month of May, Reynolds has come crashing back down to earth. Reynolds has a line of just .154/.195/.205 in 39 June at bats.
Lowdown: Reynolds picked a bad time to slump, with Chad Tracy having recently been activated from the DL. Reynolds has played well enough to warrant a bench role with the D-Backs, but with Tracy back and Conor Jackson hitting well, Reynolds' days as a regular are likely over once interleague play ends.

Jason Marquis (ChC – SP) 9,064 drops
Marquis lasted just 1.2 innings in his most recent start, a 9-5 loss to the Braves on June 9 in which he allowed six runs (only two were earned thanks to his own throwing error) and walked three batters. Marquis is winless in his past six starts, putting together a 5.10 ERA and 1.73 WHIP in the process.
Lowdown: Marquis has been a less extreme version of Looper, as he's still got respectable season numbers of a 3.01 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and .226 BAA. That said, Marquis' current numbers are still better than what would be considered his best-case scenario.

Ramon Hernandez (Bal – C) 8,458 drops
Hernandez was mired in a long slump – he's hit just .194 (13 for 67) over his past 20 games – before being placed on the DL on June 7 with a groin contusion.
Lowdown: Hernandez, who had career highs of 23 home runs and 91 runs batted in last season, came out of the gate strong, and had a .308/.387/.462 line as of May 12. He's certainly worth stashing on an available DL spot, and should be on Watch Lists in any leagues where he is currently a free agent.

Jason Schmidt (LAD – SP) 8,406 drops
Schmidt was hit hard in his most recent start, as he allowed nine hits and six earned runs in 4.0 innings against the Blue Jays on June 10. Schmidt is 1-3 in five starts on the season, with a 6.43 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, and .303 BAA in 21.0 innings.
Lowdown: As Andy Behrens pointed out last week, fantasy owners shouldn't have been overzealous in regards to his "triumphant" return from the DL on June 5. According to the Los Angeles Times, Schmidt's velocity was in the mid-80's versus the Blue Jays. "We don't know whether the velocity has something to do with the shoulder issues or not," said Stan Conte, the Dodgers' director of medical services. I have no medical training, but that ambiguity doesn't sound good. If you are holding on to Schmidt, brace yourself for another DL trip.

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